208

Ellis Marsalis Quartet: An Open Letter to Thelonious

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
Ellis Marsalis Quartet: An Open Letter to Thelonious To many, he is the patriarch of America's most celebrated jazz family. But to those who've heard him play, he's a talent not to be overlooked.

Ellis Marsalis is one of the most respected among the New Orleans-based jazz artists. A former Marine, he played the circuit in New Orleans before hooking up with Ornette Coleman. Over the years, Marsalis built an extensive resume as musician, professor of music and, of course, father to Wynton, Branford, Ellis III, Delfeayo, Miboya and Jason. Now, Marsalis leads a quartet, comprised of himself on piano, son Jason on drums, Derek Douget on saxophones, and Jason Stewart on bass.

An Open Letter to Thelonius is a tribute to another distinguished jazz artist: the late Thelonious Monk. "Jackie-ing" is a delightful melody that features Douget on the tenor. Like all the other tracks on this album, it does justice to the original recording but allows for some creativity among the players. Jason Marsalis is crisp on the cymbals during his father's solo. Stewart, though mostly in the background, is strong. Jason later delivers an engaging solo, scoring well on the snare and toms.

The quartet is in full swing on the often-covered "Straight, No Chaser." Jason Marsalis sets the tone with some deft work on the hi-hat, while his father and Stewart help underscore Douget's tenor sax lead. As the song moves along, Jason mixes up his beat with some rolls on the snare and toms. Ellis Marsalis then takes point with a "let the good times roll" solo. Stewart then follows with a solo of his own.

Marsalis plays alone on "'Round Midnight," a fitting performance. Despite the absence of other instruments, this isn't a sleepy solo-piano effort. Marsalis' dexterity and sense of timing keep this one interesting throughout.

One need not be a fan of Thelonious Monk—although it helps—to appreciate the effort by the Ellis Marsalis Quartet. An Open Letter to Thelonious is just that, a message to the artist that says, "Thank you for gift to us." As with any open letter, it's a message meant to be shared by everyone.

Track Listing: Crepescule With Nellie; Jackie-ing; Epistrophy; Monk's Mood; Straight, No Chaser; Light Blue; Teo; Ruby, My Dear; Rhythm-a-ning; Round Midnight; Evidence.

Personnel: Derek Douget: saxophone; Ellis Marsalis: piano; Jason Stewart: bass instrument; Jason Marsalis: drums.

Title: An Open Letter to Thelonious | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ELM Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Better Angels of Our Nature CD/LP/Track Review The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 20, 2017
Read What Brought You Here? CD/LP/Track Review What Brought You Here?
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 20, 2017
Read My Head Is Listening CD/LP/Track Review My Head Is Listening
by John Sharpe
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Passin' Thru CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Ugly Beauty CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Nick Davies
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves" CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Mask Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Mask Dance
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "Infinitude" CD/LP/Track Review Infinitude
by John Kelman
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "A Beautiful Story" CD/LP/Track Review A Beautiful Story
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "Duende Libre" CD/LP/Track Review Duende Libre
by James Nadal
Published: May 6, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!